Large Agribusiness - Environmental Damage
Large farms, more chemicalsAs conglomerates take control of more farmland, the number of farmers responsible for the actual farming decreases. Today, less than 1% of the population provides food for the remaining 99+%.
How do so few farmers produce enough quantities? By being responsible for enormous land areas and subsidized by the government.
Applying conventional pesticides and fertilizers – by the ton - also helps. (Annually, over 800 million tons of pesticides and 160 million tons of fertilizer.)
Large farms and conventional fertilizers and pesticides have gone hand in hand for many decades. This has effectively depleted the soil's natural fertility, contaminated our fresh water supply, and created dead zones in our oceans.
"Organic" but unsustainableUntil recently, organic produce usually came from small, local family farms. With the organic market growing 20–25% each year, more large food companies are developing organic lines, hoping for a piece of the profits.
It's good that more agri-businesses switch to organic methods, but the issue of sustainability remains, especially when they put more small farms out of business.
These corporate farms, typically motivated by profits instead of sustainability, aim to produce large quantities of uniform, cash crops and plant them year after year on the same farmland.
This mono-cropping degrades soil health, which not only yields less-nutritious fruits and vegetables, but causes the soil to erode more easily and eventually lose its natural fertility to produce crops in the future.
We should look for organic AND sustainable food suppliers.
Fossil fuels and pollutionSince 1961 the global food trade has tripled, and the number of tons of food shipped internationally has quadrupled.
Centralized, corporate crops (organic or conventional) typically travel 1500–2500 miles to get to your plate, which not only degrades food quality and taste, but generates significant waste and pollution.
Shipping produce across the country or around the world requires more packaging, refrigeration, and fossil fuels.
Buying from local suppliers minimizes waste and pollution, protects local economies, and gives you the best quality products.
Ideas for Change
Organic vs Sustainable